Exposure to flame retardants may decrease fertility: study

January 28, 2010

Exposure to the common flame retardant polybrominated diphenyl ether may decrease fertility among women, claims a new study from the University of California at Berkeley.

According to a study abstract, researchers used blood tests to evaluate PBDE levels among low-income pregnant women living in a predominantly Mexican-immigrant community in California. The women also were surveyed about the length of time it took them to become pregnant. PBDE levels were detected in 95 percent of the women, and those with higher levels were more likely to have taken longer to become pregnant.

Exposure to PBDE is widespread and levels can be detected in 97 percent of Americans, the study abstract said. Previous studies have linked PBDE to negative reproductive and hormonal effects in animals, but this is the first study to focus on human effects.

The study was published in the Jan. 26 edition of Environmental Health Perspectives.